The National Women’s Hockey League has been making news this offseason for its financial status. Last week, Excelle Sports reported that Mike Moran was asking the league to reimburse his investment and threatened a lawsuit if it did not comply. Moran said he was an investor.
The NWHL responded to the story saying Moran was a “volunteer.” The story gets cloudy because, as Excelle reported, Moran apparently made both investments to the league and donations to its corresponding not-for-profit foundation.
Confused? Not surprising. The financial structure of the NWHL, including who exactly is investing, has been a well-guarded secret. While the actual game on the ice was solid, the league’s inaugural season was filled with public relations snafus and reported late payments to vendors. In some ways, this is part of starting a new business – mistakes and personnel turnover are usually high. Men’s pro leagues often had similar issues.
The difference is the amplification effect of social media which creates questions and doubts about long-term viability especially when the financial particulars are opaque. More transparency in such matters may help attract new investors and turn the on-ice success into a sustaining business.